Refugees 'are forced into destitution'
Publisher: The Independent
Author: By NIGEL MORRIS Deputy Political Editor
Story date: 09/12/2012
Language: English

Thousands of people who have fled some of the world's most dangerous countries are being forced into destitution, begging and prostitution on British streets because they cannot be sent back, the Home Office is warned today.

A majority of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe are refused asylum, but few are forcibly returned because their home countries will not accept them or because immigration officers lose track of them.

In a bleak report, the Refugee Council says nearly 25 per cent of failed asylum-seekers who approached it for emergency help over the last two years were from those five countries. Most do not qualify for state support or housing once their asylum applications have been rejected unless they can prove they are planning to leave.

But the charity says many are too frightened to return because of the human rights situations in their homelands and end up living in the shadows in Britain.

"This can force people into homelessness, begging and sex work. Women who are destitute are particularly exposed to the risk of further violence in the UK," it warns. In the report, published to mark Human Rights Day, the Refugee Council urges the Government to offer rejected asylum-seekers from such nations a special form of protection until their home countries are considered safe for their return.

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